Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Venue 9, Laurie Anderson, and Gus Van Sant

The Lads and I played at Venue 9 last night as part of their Women's Work series. It's a small theater in the SoMa district with seating that rises up away from the stage, plus a backstage area where the audience can mingle with performers and buy food and drink at a concession stand. Not sure what to expect, we brought all our gear, including our PA, mains, and monitors. We started out sending a signal to their sound system from our board, but sadly it appears other high-volume performers had taken a toll on their main speakers. We sounded like we were trying to play through a car stereo. So we had to bring in our own main speakers, which are huge and heavy and which we'd hoped not to have to haul into the theater but it was the right thing to do. There was no point in sounding really bad on our first time playing there.

We played "Taste the Wall", "Tacit Blue", "John Mockingbird", "Romp Yello", and "The Song of Coinchend Cennfada". Jenny Makofsky did her monologue after we were done, and then Yiam Redd's troupe performed. However the downside to bringing in all that gear was that we had to strike all that gear, so even with the help of the Venue 9 staff, I missed Yiam's performance entirely. She had some musicians working with her, I know that. I saw them backstage and one of them was a flute player, but I didn't catch his name!I really enjoyed playing at Venue 9. I thought we sounded really good and the live sound is massively improved.

Our next gig will be over Presidents' Day weekend in San Jose, and it will be a much longer set in a bigger room.

In other news Grant lent me Laurie Anderson's live double album. The first disc was good but the second disc was REALLY good. I'm planning to buy it. My favorite number is "Poison" from the second disc. Sound-being Paul, who works at NASA Ames Research Center, tipped me off a few months ago that Laurie Anderson is now the NASA Artist-in-Residence, and that somebody he works with had a meeting with her. I can't wait to find out what work she is doing in partnership with them. She mentions it on her web site, but there are no details yet.

I recently saw Elephant, a film that Gus Van Sant wrote and directed. It is about a Columbine-style school shooting, re-conceived to occur in Portland, Oregon. I'm not going to run out and buy the DVD when it comes out, but I thought it was an interesting take on the school shooting concept. It is bizarre that, just as the Viet Nam war is now public domain and fair game for movie directors, Columbine has become movie subject matter too. Elephant focuses on the experiences of the victims leading up to the shooting. The student gunmen appear in a few very powerful scenes, but it is mostly about the victims. There are long, atmospheric shots with blurry unfocused areas around the characters, as though they are doing things that are very much part of their daily routine and they don't really see what's around them. It's worth seeing.

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